Top Pick: Rural Africa Weekly Report

Every week, Rural Reporters collates a weekly report on development in rural Africa and its environs. The reports include are some of our top picks of recent must-read research, interviews, reports, blogs and in-depth articles to help you keep on top of global crises.

Here are the updates from the previous week.

 

Community Development

IFC Plans To Light Up Rural Nigeria

The International Finance Corporation plans to light up Nigeria’s rural areas through its Lighting Africa for Nigeria program. The intervention for off-grid power solutions is a glowing success in twelve other African countries and now hopes turn the lights on across Nigeria.

Solar Power Set To Transform Rural Economy

Increased use of renewable energy to cater for the country’s high demand for electricity, particularly in rural areas is creating enormous opportunities the small scale and medium enterprises to capitalise, thus contributing to economic growth.

Rex Energy Managing Director Mr Francis Kibhisa said during the launch of 3G Solar Home System that the whole process involved in the distribution of the renewable energy in the vast rural areas could contribute significantly in job creations.

 South Africa: Education, Health Get Lion’s Share of Kwazulu-Natal Budget

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has allocated R12.06-billion to spend on various infrastructure projects around the province during the 2015/16 financial year.

“The province is budgeting to spend R12.06-billion in 2015/16, R11.804-billion in 2016/17 and R12.196-billion in 2017/18 on various infrastructure projects. This equates to R36.06-billion over the… MTEF,” said the provincial minister of finance, Belinda Scott.

Source: SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg) 

 

Uganda’s ‘Right to Know’ Data Revolution

In Uganda, access to government data is changing the face of journalism and community empowerment. Tools for investigating budgets and tracking local initiatives have created an information-driven community who are changing the definition of government transparency.

The world of government data is rarely described as exciting. Yet for a new batch of data journalists and Ugandan technology experts, the number of data platforms opening across the country is exactly that.

A Credit Card Foundation Aims to Help Africa Rural Poor.

Smallholder farmers in Africa face a multitude of challenges including land rights, gender inequality, transport problems, and spoilage issues. Another big challenge: a lack of adequate financing that enables smallholder farmers to grow their operations.

The MasterCard Fund for Rural Prosperity will dedicate $15 million to support the development of innovative ideas for financial products and services that are accessible to the rural poor. The remaining $35 million is set aside to scale those ideas, especially those that focus on financial inclusion of farmers in new rural areas. The foundation says the fund will help 1 million rural Africans.

Living

Rural Africa Is The Most Expensive Place On Earth To Charge A Phone

When American friends of mine say they’re interested in visiting rural sub-Saharan Africa, I tell them to consider Ghana, one of the most amazing nations in the world.

I also tell them to think twice about bringing a phone charger with them — there aren’t any power sockets in the walls. Of the approximately 600 million people living in the region, only about 14 percent have access to electricity, according to the World Bank.

It’s not that cell phones aren’t popular in rural sub-Saharan Africa – on the contrary, mobile penetration has exploded across the continent. But charging one? That will probably require a trip to a local shop, where customers are charged astronomical fees for use of a solar-powered kiosk.

Zambia: Lack of Power Cripples Rural Growth

In an interview with Elias Mugala, a small scale farmer in Chongwe revealed that he had not even explored on how much it would cost him to bring electricity to his area. Asked why he has not applied for it, he said that he had not managed to raise that money.

Asked if his children had mobile phones, Mugala said that some of his children had mobile phones but they did not have the internet facility on their phones. He observed that the lack of main electricity supply in many rural remote areas was major obstacle to deploying telecommunication infrastructure.

Education

Internet Revolution Can Destroy Scholarship, Says Soyinka

Foremost Nigerian writer and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka warned yesterday in Awka that if reasonable steps were not taken, the current internet revolution would destroy scholarship.

Delivering the 3rd Zik annual lecture at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Soyinka said the heavy reliance on internet for academic activities would soon witness the end of books as instrument for mind development and potential building.

According to him, there has been so much decline in writing and reading among the younger generation and urged them not to allow any primordial considerations to hinder them from developing their innate potentials.

Why School Clubs Are Very Important

Ronald Wandira, a history teacher at Riviera High School, explains that a number of life skills can be acquired from school clubs since eligibility for membership is less strict.

“The fact that these clubs do not discriminate against any one means it is possible to have students from Senior One up to Senior Six all united under one umbrella which gives everyone an opportunity to learn from each other,” says Wandira.

To drive his point home, Wandira cites the Martial Arts club at the school which equips students with self defence mechanisms on top of training them to control their temper. “Students meet for training at least once a week. These sessions promote unity in the group and impart important values like discipline which remains part of their life even after school,” Wandira adds.

 

Business

How This Entrepreneur Is Bringing Power To Rural Zimbabwe

Nearly 80% of Zimbabwe’s rural households do not have access to electricity, and even those connected to the grid face frequent outages.

In 2013 Zimbabwean entrepreneur Simbarashe Mhuriro (30) partnered with a Swiss-German renewable energy company to develop grid-connected solar plants. Their joint venture, Oursun Energy Zimbabwe, is set to connect projects with a total capacity of up to 30MW to the national grid by January 2016.

Mhuriro tells Dinfin Mulupi how he joined forces with the European group, his experiences doing business in Zimbabwe and what he hopes to accomplish.

Namibia Launch Sensitivity Maps for Oil Spills

Growing offshore and gas exploration as well as increasing maritime traffic at Namibia’s ports prompted the Ministry of Works and Transport last Friday to launch coastal sensitivity maps for oil spills at Walvis Bay.

The maps are regarded as tactical and strategic elements that are an important component of the country’s oil spill preparedness and response system that is currently being reformed. This is the second phase of the process that is aimed at making the system both responsive and modern.

 

Law

Burkina Faso Approves Anti-Corruption law required for World Bank support

Burkina Faso’s interim parliament has approved an anti-corruption law, one of two pieces of legislation required by the World Bank before it will release $100 million in budget support.

The National Transitional Council (CNT), which was established after a popular uprising forced veteran leader Blaise Compaore to stand down late last year, is charged with guiding the West African nation to elections later this year.

 

Art & Culture

South Africa: Faith-Based Organisations Raise Concerns Over Age of Sexual Consent

Several faith-based organisations have expressed serious concerns and reservations regarding the decriminalisation of consensual sexual acts by children between 12 and 16 years old. These were raised during the second day of the public hearings held by the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services.

The proposal to decriminalise these sex acts forms part of proposed amendments contained in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill.

The Bill proposes, amongst other things, to ensure that children of certain ages are not held criminally liable for engaging in consensual sexual acts with each other and to give presiding officers a discretion in order to decide in individual cases whether the particulars of children should be included in the National Register for Sex Offenders or not.

 

 

Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and Ventures-Africa.com. She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde